Sir Alex Ferguson had a knack of adding two or three players to create new teams at Old Trafford, and in his 26 years he must have revamped four or five new-look groups. But this time is different—very different—as Manchester United need a complete rebuild.
Everyone is talking about how three or four top players would cure the problem, and while it would most definitely be a big step in the right direction, they need seven or eight new additions.
I was at Stamford Bridge to watch United fall way beyond the point where they can be considered title challengers, and where life is going to become even tougher as they battle to stay in the Champions League by reaching fourth spot.
They need two full-backs, two dynamic central midfielders, a penetrative winger and one outstanding centre-half.
But the rebuild might not stop there. Because it's also a conundrum for Manchester Untied about the impact if they fail to qualify for the Champions League. The club's top players might not want to stay, for example Wayne Rooney might opt to leave, and he will need replacing big time.
It’s OK for David Moyes to suggest that all of the top players still want to go to Manchester United—but times are changing.
There are other big clubs out there now with strong pulling power, as well as financial might, and if United are not in the Champions League, then that might just be the watershed that tips the balance of power away from Old Trafford.
Then it might be a question of even keeping the best players around, let along trying to persuade the new ones out there that Manchester United can still be regarded as the place to be.
Will Wayne Rooney sign a new contract? Will he be less convinced to sign one if United are not playing in Europe’s elite competition?
Will Robin van Persie still want to stay, or the new exciting young talent Adnan Januzaj?
I feel sorry for Moyes, I really do.
I predicted before a ball was kicked that United would struggle to make the top four, and it looks like they are not just out of the defence of their title, but they are in a battle to make that "bottom line" fourth place.
It’s a big worry for United. The consequences could be far greater than they imagine.
It's not just about Moyes. The entire backroom staff changed when Sir Alex left, including a new chief executive to replace David Gill.
Moyes has a decent enough squad to be getting better results. But that isn’t seeing the bigger picture.
That's the reason why I am advocating a complete rebuild of the team. United need a new spine. They are not good enough in central midfield, they are no longer tearing teams apart down the flanks and their two top defenders, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, are coming toward the end of their careers at the very top together.
In Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley they have young players coming through. But without the real leadership United teams had in the past, who could guide them through and help them develop?
United are not going to get the players they want in the January window. They might get one or two, but the summer is going to be so important for the club in terms of pushing ahead with a complete team rebuild.
Ex-England manager Glenn Hoddle is a regular columnist for Bleacher Report UK. Learn more out about Glenn's exciting new website venture, Zapsportz, here.
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